Posts Tagged ‘truth about marriage’

27th May
written by Michelle


On Monday my mom posted this photo of my Grandfather in honor of Memorial Day. I knew that he had served in WWII, but I had never paid much attention to the dates. He left for Europe, less than year after he and my grandmother has been married. It’s hard to imagine my grandparents as newly weds, in-love and holding hands and probably sharing books. I don’t have any memories of them together nor do I remember hearing many stories about those days. And sadly, they are no longer here for me to ask.

I wonder what it felt like for my Grandmother to say good-bye to her husband after being married for less than year? She had only been in the United States for five, maybe six years? I wonder if she still felt like a foreigner, leaning a new system and language all while completing medical school? I wonder what she did during those years they were apart? Did they write letters? How did they stay in touch? What did she do on lonely Saturday mornings? Did he think of her often or was his work in intelligence so consuming that he didn’t have time to miss her? I don’t know the answers to these questions. I can only wonder.

You know what else I wonder, how was it when he came back? Was it a hard adjustment for him? Or maybe for her? Or perhaps, for both?

Maybe it was seamless. Maybe they were so happy to just be back together. But my hunch is that it probably involved some transition.

Because when you do life apart for a while, you have to re-learn how to do life together.

For the past year or so Gerber and I have been trying to learn this rhythm of coming and going, of doing life apart and then together again. By no means are we separated by wars and deployment for years at a time. I don’t want to compare or undermine the kind of sacrifice or pain that many military families know too, well.

But on a much smaller scale, because of the type of work we do, we do have this weird rhythm where he’s gone for a week and then home again. Apart and then together. Together for another week and then apart. You see how it goes. In May and June, Gerber’s gone for a total of 4 weeks, just about every other week, including this one. Granted, this is our busiest season, but still, usually he is gone at least one week a month.

What we’re finding out is that the weeks he’s gone, we both do fine. He is taking care of a team of volunteers and coordinating water filter and stove projects. He’s translating and mixing cement and sharing his heart. He’s in his element and doing meaningful work 24/7. And even though the extreme heat and lack of alone time, drain my introverted husband, he loves doing what he’s doing.

The weeks Gerber’s gone, I gear up for solo-parenting and managing life at home. I re-arrange my work schedule, I make time for grocery shopping and fixing the curtain rod that falls down again. Elena and I eat dinner picnic style outside so there’s one less thing to clean in the evening. I arrange play dates or we visit my in-laws or find a new playground to explore. Anything to make afternoons and evenings a little easier. I ask our sitter to come early one morning so I can go to the gym. We eat leftovers a lot. I try to skype with a friend in the evening. We make it work. And in general, we have developed a pretty good schedule while Daddy is away.

But the tension and arguments come in the transition. When we go back to life together. Gerber comes home after a very full, intense, sweaty week of work with people. They sleep outside, use a latrine and bathe by buckets. He’s physically tired and emotionally drained. He needs some downtime and a shower. He would love a nap and then just wants to be with his girls. Probably, in that order.

Maybe you can already see where this is going.

I am so excited he’s coming home because I want to talk. I want to hear about the week and what happened and tell him about mine….what cute thing Elena did and what new words she said. I want to tell him about work and my friend who is having a baby. I want to plan something to do, a family trip or breakfast out perhaps? I have lists in my head and already have an idea of what we can do for the weekend. I’ve been thinking about it since Wednesday, of course, because I have been home every night. I am tired, but not so much physically tired, as emotionally empty.

He comes home and feels overwhelmed. And I get disappointed. And then we go through this cycle. Whose week was harder? Who is more tired? We know the answers; we both are in different ways. No one wins in the ugly game of comparison. We know this. We are both working and parenting and taking care of our family and in some seasons the scale tips more one way or the other. We make sacrifices and say I am sorry and start again.

Maybe this is common for other couples, or maybe it’s just us. I am not really sure.

People always ask me, oh it must be so hard when Gerber is gone? And yes, it’s true I don’t like it when he’s gone, but honestly we manage ok. The harder part is often we he comes back. For us, that transition is tough. I used to feel embarrassed about admitting this. I worried people would think, it should be so wonderful once he’s home. Why on earth would it be hard? What’s hard about coming home?

A few months ago I was sharing this with a woman who came down with one of our groups. Her own kids are a bit older than me, and one of them happened to serve in the military. As we sat waiting for dessert to be served, she asked me directly and sincerely…So how is it when Gerber comes home?

I confessed, “I just don’t understand why it’s so hard to come back together after we’ve been apart.”

She nodded, “Do you know that most military spouses say that saying good-bye to their husband was hard, but that it was actually tougher when their husbands returned home?” She put her hand on my leg, “Don’t underestimate how hard the transition can be.”

Obviously, we’re not a military family. Gerber is not gone for months or years in undisclosed locations. But it has been helpful to have a framework as to try to understand why the transition can be hard.

It makes think about my grandmother, has a young woman of 26. What it was like for her and my grandfather to be back together again after almost 3 years apart? What was their transition like? I can only hope that it was sweet and that they gave each other lots of grace. Because that’s what any transition needs, right? Grace to find a new rhythm and routine. And the thing about grace is you don’t just give it once. No, grace must be extended again and again. Like a good cup of coffee, you need more each morning.

So we get to keep learning and listening to one another and trying to show grace. And we will get to try again this Friday, when Gerber comes home after a week away. I am getting my grace ready and am going to try and keep some of the lists in my head, in my head, at least for a little bit :)

P.S. How do you and your spouse handle the transition of coming and going when you have different needs?


25th November
written by Michelle


Last week G and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary. And I would say it has taken us a good year to understand this simple math equation: 1 + 1 = 2

one of him + one of me = two. That’s TWO people.

You know Christian culture does this funny thing where we talk about and quote the verse at most weddings “and the two shall become one.” But we rarely talk about what does this really mean? Like in practical, day-to-day, life? Because last time I checked there were definitely TWO people who had opinions, TWO people who used dishes, and TWO people who wake up at different times.

So, I’m not sure if I buy this 1 + 1 = 1 stuff. Sometimes I wonder if we have oversimplified this concept and mistaken what it actually means.  Now, before you think I’ve gotten on some heretical bandwagon let me explain.

When we got married I believed that we would become one. You know, share one bank account, one home, one life. And we do most of these things happily, usually. But somehow I believed that being “one” also meant that everything would be “better together.”  I mean that is what Jack Johnson sings, right?

Dinner always together. Morning runs together. Working together. Cooking in the kitchen together. Waking up every morning together.

Imagine my surprise when I realized sometimes we’re not home at the same time for dinner. Or that He prefers to run in the afternoon. Working together brought more initial challenges then sweet, together moments and when our kitchen has only one itty-bitty counter space having two people in there is just plain frustrating.

+   +   +

Usually Sunday mornings go something like this:

G wakes up. And wakes up hungry. I’d think he’d like it we had a fridge in the bedroom. He cuddles, tries to kiss me and coax me to get up. I moan, roll over, put a pillow over my eyes and fall back asleep. He gets OJ and goes to watch TV. His stomach still churning. 20 minutes later I mope around the house, hair a mess, barely verbal. He says, he’s ready to go. I say give me 10 minutes. I throw on some yoga clothes, hair in a pony tail, check email and apply mascara. He goes outside to wait by the bike. 20 minutes later we leave. He’s starving now and frustrated that I took so long. I’m hurt that he didn’t want to wait for me. I mean why is getting breakfast more important than waiting for me? {I’m not dramatic or anything.}

you can imagine, once we get to our favorite breakfast place neither one of us are in a good mood.

This routine has happened more times than I’d like to admit.

+   +   +

I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed a year ago, actually on our honeymoon. I should give her proper credit for the 1 + 1 =2 idea. She and her then fiance are in the midst of a visa/marriage nightmare; living in limbo, waiting for word from the US Department of Homeland Security for clearance for her fiance. And in the process they are figuring out how to do life together. Somehow the story and the possible fear hit close to home, but it’s taken me a while to fully understand and figure out what does 1 + 1 = 2 look like for us.

It’s meant some letting go, and remembering who I am/was before I got married. And learning that loving and living with this man, does not in fact mean we have to do everything together.

This Sunday morning we did it well.

G got up early, kissed me good-morning, let the dog out and took his motorcycle to Antigua for breakfast. He got food and coffee all before I even opened my eyes.

I got to sleep in till 10. Yes, no shame in the fact that I love, LOVE sleeping in. I got to stay in my pajamas, drink my smoothie and peruse pinterest without having to hurry.

And you know what he came home happy and full. And I was rested and relaxed.

Maybe sometimes the best way to love someone else and take care of yourself is to create some space.

+   +   +

I do in fact believe that something unique and special can happen in marriage. However, I’m not sure if it’s some supernatural oneness. For me the unity in marriage comes from wanting someone else’s best. Sometimes I feel most “together” when I know that I have put his needs above my own. And I think he would agree. Maybe what we’re learning is that “better together” can also means wanting someone else’s best whether or not you’re actually together.

And if his best means I don’t make him wait for me to go to breakfast, I don’t what can be more unifying than that.


If you’re married, have you and your spouse worked out a good way to give each other space? What things to do you do apart and what things together? Do you feel like the idea of 1 + 1 = 2 just makes more sense sometimes? Do share.


30th August
written by Michelle


For the majority of my twenties I was the single girl in a group of mainly married friends. Thursday nights we’d  all squeeze onto an over-sized sofa to watch The Office and most weekends we would meet up at the beach on Saturday afternoons. In between passing bags of Kettle chips back and forth, the girls and I flipped through magazines and chatted, while the boys invented games using seaweed and driftwood as markers in the sand. I never felt left out or “less like an adult” because I didn’t come with a significant other.

That is until it was time to leave.

I watched as they hopped into their cars, two-by-two, and drove away together.

I sat in my white Honda with the sunroof down and felt the twinge of sadness that sets in when you realize, I’m going home alone.

Somehow I had imagined my married friends driving home together having incredible conversations; discussing everything that had just happened and responding with active listening skills. Upon arriving at their driveway, I pictured them walking through the door hand-in-hand, having magical moments as they talked in the kitchen and then cuddling up on the sofa, before crawling into bed together.

Now, four years later and 8 months into marriage I can confidently say that I had some unrealistic expectations about marriage.

The truth about marriage is most days are very, very ordinary.

Someone has to take out the trash. Someone has to put gas in the car. Someone has to make the bed. And in our home, it’s whoever is the last person to get-up (which is usually me). There are towels to fold and emails that are waiting for replies. Some days someone is tired, or someone else is stressed and the conversation doesn’t get beyond who is going to the bank? did you call the doctor? And who is going to the airport to pick up the next group? As I write this now, we’re both on our computers. He’s at the table, I’m on the bed. There is no magical moment happening in the kitchen. Unless you count the stack of dishes that are patiently waiting in the sink.

Of course this is not the whole picture of marriage, but it’s definitely part of it. And I think it’s important to tell this part, less any single person is watching their married friends drive away together and still thinking that they are going off to the magical land of holy matrimony.


Marriage is made up of a million, mundane daily tasks. And I have found the beauty in marriage is getting to do these ordinary tasks with someone. Or for someone.

Of course there are still meaningful, long conversations, and spontaneous moments of pure fun and hand-holding while walking through the park, but I have found real intimacy through learning how to do daily life together. And I think this may be be one of marriage’s intended gifts. More than love and magical romantic moments, most of us long for intimacy with a spouse or partner.

The pastor who officiated one of my friend’s wedding a few years ago said this and it has continued to be one of my favorite pictures of marriage:

“Within marriage, you are free to fail without being rejected. You are free to succeed without causing jealousy. You are free to journey through one stage of growth to another, while drawing strength and support from your partner. You are free to face huge problems knowing that each problem will be less intimidating and more manageable because you will face it together. Marriage also allows the freedom to exchange hopes and fears and the whole gamut of feelings with one another. Such intimacy requires hard work and courage, but it is a kind of hallowed journey and, ultimately, a source of fulfillment and freedom.”

I believe this is the kind of marriage you create when you embrace the ordinary, and make time and space for intimacy to grow.


If you’re married what does your “ordinary” look like?

If you’re single have you ever watched married friends drive away together and thought something similar? Why is it so easy to do that?


Keep checking back for more posts on, The Truth about Marriage. I plan on writing from time to time and inviting other people to join in and share their perspective. You can read the first post here:

In a culture that feeds us stories of either fairy tell weddings or of marriages that crumble into messy divorces, I think its important to have places where you can tell the truth. What does real, not perfect, day-to-day marriage look like? What does loving someone with everything you got look like when a minute later you’re so frustrated wondering how on earth this is going to work? Maybe when we learn to be honest about what marriage looks like (the good, the ugly and the confusing) we’ll be less and less inclined to worship the idea of it. Marriage is wonderful, but it is certainly not a means to end. I want to tell the real story. The truth about marriage.

31st May
written by Michelle

One of our first fights was about eggs.

yes, really. It went something like this:

“umm, have you seen the eggs I bought? (indirect, accusatory way of saying, this is your fault.)

“yea. I used them to make eggs this morning.” (nonchalant, because what else would you do with eggs?)

“whhhaaat!? I was going to use them to make banana bread.” (over-reacting example of how I had an idea in my head but failed to communicate it out-loud.)

And then it only got worse; quickly spiraling into an argument about being too controlling, someone over-reacting, someone else not communicating, and you can imagine how it went from there. Both of our ugly sides came out.  Both of us mad and angry… about eggs.


•   •   •


I look back now and think how ridiculous it is to fight about eggs. But it’s never really about eggs, is it? It’s about something deeper. It’s about something that comes up when all of the sudden you’re in love and married and trying to figure out the right way to wash dishes and what should or should not get hung on the walls. All of the sudden the small things like who uses up the last of the eggs become big things.


Maybe that’s what I’ve learned. Marriage is about learning how to share eggs.

And somewhere in their you have realize that it’s impossible to share eggs when you’re stuck labeling things as mine and yours. Egg sharing is serious business. It means you have to learn how to not complain if someone preparers their scrambled eggs different from how you prepare yours. And you have to learn to forgive quickly when someone breaks the last egg. And sometimes it means you may buy the eggs, but not get to eat them.

The truth is sharing is sometimes hard. I am sure for some personalities and people egg sharing comes more naturally. For us we’ve had to work at it. And we will continue to have to work at it.  The truth is I love my husband and because I love him so much I want to be able to share who I am and what I have. I want to not just do life together, but really learn how to share life together. However, sharing by definition mean giving something away. You can’t want to share a life with someone and be insistent about always get things your way. It’s just doesn’t work. I believe what you gain in marriage, is because of something you lose. You lose a little freedom, control and perhaps your way of doing things. But what you get in return is so much better.

So, we’re learning how to share a life and share eggs.*


 *authors note: we have not argued about eggs since that first fight. We have however argued about numerous other things.


The Truth about Marriage is a new series I plan on writing about from time to time and inviting other people to join in and share their perspective.

In a culture that feeds us stories of either fairy tell weddings or of marriages that crumble into messy divorces, I think its important to have places where you can tell the truth. What does real, not perfect, day-to-day marriage look like? What does loving someone with everything you got look like when a minute later you’re so frustrated wondering how on earth this is going to work? Maybe when we learn to be honest about what marriage looks like (the good, the ugly and the confusing) we’ll be less and less inclined to worship the idea of it. Marriage is wonderful, but it is certainly not a means to end. I want to tell the real story. The truth about marriage.


I’m curious, if you’re married what does marriage look like for you? How is it different than you expected? Or is it?

If you’re single and wanting one day to be married, what are the expectations or ideals that you have been told about marriage?